Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Lady Windermere's Fan

Lady Windermere's Fan

"A moment may ruin a life."

As part of the Wilde Challenge hosted by Marisa, I read Lady Windermere's Fan, A Play About A Good Woman.

First, let me say what a delightful play this was! Wilde litters all his writing with witty little aphorisms that demand you have a notebook near when you're reading. Pick up this little gem, and you'll know what I'm talking about. Wilde highlights so much of the gender war--the double standards to which women are subjected, and men escape unscathed. The machinations both genders resort to just to make their marriage "work."

The Plot:

Lady Winderermere has been happily married for about two years. Until, that is, one day when a couple of her friends let her know that the rumors are spreading that her husband is having an affair with Mrs. Erlynne, a woman with a scandalous past. Lady Windermere, who is happily married, refuses to believe this after she first hears, but begins to believe when her sister in law advises her to leave town, so she can keep an eye on her husband. She checks her husband's bank account, and learns that her husband is spending large amounts of money on Mrs. Erlynne, but when she confronts him, he tells her he is not having an affair. He, in fact, is trying to divert scandal. He then asks Lady Winderemere to invote Mrs. Erlynne to a ball she is holding that evening. Lady Windermere refuses, and against her wishes, and threats of physical violence, her husband sends an invitation to Mrs. Erlynne. Lady Winderemere is furious and mortified. The ball begins, and who should enter but Mrs. Erlynne. What follows is a comedy of errors, and a memorable meeting of the sexes.

Loved it, and am looking forward to my next Wilde adventure.

And for those of you who can't get enough of the Wilde aphorisms:

  • I don't like compliments, and I don't see why a man should think he is pleasing a woman enormously when he says to her a whole heap of things he doesn't mean. (Lady Winderemere to Lord Darlington.)
  • If you pretend to be good, the world takes you very seriously. If you pretend to be bad, it doesn't. Such is the astounding stupidity of optimist.
  • I think life too complex a thing to be settled by these hard and fast rules
  • Our husbands would really forget our existence if we didn't nag at them from time to time, just to remind them that we have a perfect legal right to do so.
  • Nowadays to be intelligible is to be found out. LD
  • Men become old, but they never become good.
  • Yes, dear, these wicked woman get our husbands away from us, but they always come back, slightly damaged, of course
  • Crying is the refuge of plain women, but the ruin of pretty ones.
  • It's most dangerous nowadays for a husband to pay any attention to his wife in public. It always makes people think that he beats her when they're alone. The world has grown suspicious of anything that looks like a happy married life.
  • Lady Plymdale is trying to get her male friend to introduce Mrs. Erlynne to her husband, so that aan affair may ensue (one of the funnier moments of the play, and she says:
    He has been so attentive lately, that he has become a perfect nuisance. Now, this woman is just the thing for him. He'll dance attendance upon her as long as she lets him, and won't bother me. I assure you, women of that kind are most useful. They form the basis of other people's marriages.
  • But there are moments when one has to choose between living one's own life, fully, entirely, completely--or dragging out some false, shallow, degrading existence that the world in its hypocrisy demands. You have that moment now. Choose!
  • If a woman wants to hold a man, she has merely to appeal to what is worst in him.
  • Wicked women bother one. Good women bore one. That is the only difference between them.
  • We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
  • In this world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it. The last is much the worst, the last is a real tragedy!
  • Cynic: A man who knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing.
    Sentimentalist: A man who sees an absurd value in everything, and doesn't know the market price of any single thing.
  • Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.
  • Oh, what a lesson! and what a pity that in life we only get our lessons when they are of no use to us!
  • Ideals are dangerous things. Realities are better. They wound, but they are better.
  • There is the same world for all of us, and good and evil, sin and innocence, go through it hand in hand. To shut one's eyes to half of life that one may live securely is as though one blinded oneself that one might walk with more safety in a land of pit and precipice.